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Phones and Internet in France

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The telecommunications network in France is broad and well-developed. France is home to a wide range of telephone and internet service providers offering packages which combine TV, landlines and mobile phones. Whilst these are particularly interesting for individuals moving from families, standalone options are also available at competitive prices. If you expect to call home very often, you can enquire about special packages which include international calls or you can also buy calling cards, which are very popular.

Otherwise, the excellent connection speeds make Skype, Whatsapp or Facebook calls very convenient. A great piece of news is that the European Union has now capped roaming fees within the Union, meaning that you can use your European sim card if you are in France for a short time.

Getting started

Orange, formerly France Telecom, remains the main service provider over the years despite fierce competition on the market. If you wish to obtain a landline or an Internet connection, Orange is always a good start, but while they remain the leading landline service providers, other companies also offer attractive packages at interesting rates. The following are popular French service providers:

  • SFR
  • Free
  • Bouygues Telecom
  • Numéricable
  • Coriolis
  • Alice

In case your accommodation already had a landline connection, you might simply need to reactivate it. Otherwise, you will need to apply for a new connection. Given the popularity of Orange, you will find multiple stores in major cities, especially in shopping malls.

For reactivation or subscription, you will require the following documents:

  • A passport or an identity card which is recognised by French authorities
  • The date when you moved in your new home
  • Proof of address (lease document or utility bill)
  • Floor and door number if you live in a flat
  • A contact number (so that the technician can call you on the installation or reactivation day)
  • Your RIB (bank account details) in case you prefer to settle your bills via direct debit (a safe and widespread practice in France)

 Good to know:

To subscribe to a new landline or for the reactivation of a land line which has been disconnected since more than 6 months, you will pay fees of 20 to 100 Euros, depending on the service provider.

In France, phone bills are sent either each month or every two months. Feel free to request a detailed bill so as to keep track of your consumption. As mentioned above, most subscribers prefer to settle their phone bill by direct debit and in fact, some service providers offer direct debit only.

Internet

France has a wide Internet network, including ADSL and fiber. Most service providers offer attractive packages at affordable rates. To subscribe, you may either visit your preferred service provider's shop or its website from your office or an Internet cafe.

The following documents need to be produced:

  • A passport or identity card (recognised by French authorities)
  • Proof of address (lease documents or utility bill)
  • Your RIB (bank account number) for direct debit purposes (a safe and widespread practice in France)

Mobile phones

The most diverse offerings are in the mobile telephony space. There are a range of providers to choose from in France, some of which are:

  • Orange
  • SFR
  • Free
  • Coriolis
  • Sosh
  • Sim
  • Free
  • Bouygues Telecom
  • La Poste Mobile
  • Zéro Forfait

All providers have a wide palette of packages, based on whether you intend to consume more data services or texts and call services. Feel free to visit the agencies of the providers to request more information before making a decision. You may choose either a contract with monthly billing or a prepaid account which you can recharge according to your consumption. In general, packages tend to be less expensive, unless you frequently go overboard, in which case the operators charge significantly inflated fees.

The following documents will be required when setting up your mobile telephony services:

  • A passport or identity card (recognised by French authorities)
  • Proof of address (lease documents or utility bill)
  • Your RIB (bank account number) if you prefer direct debit (which is a safe and widespread practice in France)

For expatriates moving from countries which are not accustomed to telephone packages, make sure to read your contract thoroughly before signing it so as to avoid any surprises, especially in the case of termination. Generally, it is very difficult to annul a contract prematurely, although most operators will allow you to cancel a contract if you leave the country permanently.

 Good to know:

In case of conflict, you may seek the help of several associations, especially the Direction Départementale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes (DDCCFR) which has branches in all French departments.

 Useful links:

Quechoisir – Comparative of Internet service providers
Ooreka – Choosing your phone service provider
Tous les forfaits – Mobile service providers
Orange
Free
SFR
Bouygues Telecom

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